Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Cambodia is ready to cooperate with development partners to help restore the socio-economic landscape in a post-Covid-19 world. He also requested the UN to reset the deadline for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Hun Sen made the comments at a virtual meeting of leaders discussing Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of Covid-19 and Beyond on Tuesday.
“The 2030 deadline to achieve the milestones and goals of sustainable development might need to be reset.
“Certainly, this requires a thorough reassessment in all aspects, including the timeframe, strategic directions, action plans and resources for achieving our agenda in the aftermath of Covid-19,” he said.
Along with his request, he highlighted priority areas related to financing which could help ensure developing countries hit the 2030 UN goals.
“[We should] turn the threat of Covid-19 into opportunities for domestic reform in each country so as to strengthen economic competitiveness, create a conducive business environment and strengthen government revenue collection, he said.
“Moreover, we need to prioritise public expenditures to sectors directly related to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 [SDGs], including education, health, social protection, agriculture and infrastructure,” he said.
The prime minister said trade policies and facilitation should be promoted, and preferential treatment given to developing countries to ensure the benefits of globalisation are shared equitably.
In this sense, the world needs to continue promoting and supporting the principles of globalisation via expanding international trade and supporting a stronger multilateralism system.
Diversifying financial sectors and promoting private sectors as well as soliciting investments, he said, could help developing countries meet the SDGs.
Hun Sen said ensuring the continuity of international aid, especially financial assistance, to developing countries would also help them achieve the goals.
Pauline Tamesis, the resident coordinator of the UN in Cambodia said on Wednesday that the Covid-19 crisis necessitates accelerating collective efforts for a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development that leaves no one behind.
“We can turn the pandemic crisis into an opportunity, if we choose to take it. The SDGs are a reliable compass for directing our efforts to build back better from the crisis. It will require a rethinking of policies and actions to transform and create a ‘better new normal’.
“The UN prepared a Socio-Economic Response Framework to address the social and economic impact and recover better from the pandemic. Expanding fiscal space is critical to deliver the SDGs and to put us back on track to achieve the 2030 agenda,” she said.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said leaders should not be concerned about the deadline to achieve the SDGs. The government needs to seek financial aid from international banks and countries in the region at most to turn Cambodia into a developed country.
He said the government should work on multi-purpose megaprojects, especially the lower Mekong and deep lake restoration projects.
The deep lake restoration project is a government initiative which aims to enlarge as many reservoirs as possible and expand irrigation systems.
“Another megaproject is to turn our country into a developed one ... namely building a production base for exports.
“This megaproject includes building infrastructure to attract investments in the handicrafts and industry sectors. [We need] quality goods production and a competitive price for markets abroad,” he said.